The Florence Institute for Boys or ‘The Florrie’ as it’s known to most was built in 1889 by local philanthropist, Magistrate and Mayor of Liverpool, Bernard Hall. He wanted to create ‘an acceptable place of recreation and instruction for the poor and working boys of this district of the city’ and named the building in memory of his daughter, Florence, who died at the untimely age of just 22.
As a Magistrate Bernard was aware of the links between poverty and anti-social behaviour and he saw The Florrie as a way of keeping idle hands constructively occupied but its popularity spread further than the immediate community. It became a hub for nurturing Liverpool’s sporting heritage with many championship teams including gymnastics, baseball, basketball and of course, football with Florence Albion FC. Many boxing greats also trained at The Florrie including Billy Williams, Dick Tiger, Larry Paul and Alan Rudkin MBE.
As you would expect music was also a big part of The Florrie’s appeal. A young Gerry Marsden learnt to play the guitar here and held his very first skiffle gig in The Grand Hall before his band ‘Gerry and the Pacemakers’ became a global sensation with hits including ‘Ferry Cross the Mersey’, ‘I Like It’ and legendary Liverpool FC anthem ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.
The Florrie continued to serve the community for almost a century before closing in the late 1980’s and falling into a state of disrepair.
After several building fires the future of The Florrie looked uncertain until a dedicated group of trustees and friends (along with a little help from The Prince of Wales) managed to raise the funds for restoration and The Florrie once again opened its doors for the people of Liverpool in 2012.